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Behavioral-analytic interpretation of deductive inference in syllogistic forms, based on Relational Frame Theory

Grant number: 14/24270-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2015
Effective date (End): June 30, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology - Experimental Psychology
Acordo de Cooperação: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Júlio César Coelho de Rose
Grantee:Jaume Ferran Aran Cebria
Host Institution: Centro de Educação e Ciências Humanas (CECH). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil


Skinner´s "Verbal Behavior" (1957) constitutes a fundamental landmark for studying language and cognition from a behavioral-analytic viewpoint. However, relatively few empirical studies have been directly based on it. Other approaches have appeared in Behavior Analysis to study phenomena related to language and thinking, like Stimulus Equivalence, which has proven highly productive regarding the study of concept formation and meaning. Relational Frame Theory is a relatively new proposal in the behavioral tradition that, despite some criticism, seems to exhibit great potential, based on a growing number of empirical studies, to study verbal and cognitive phenomena involving complex stimuli like sentences and sentence chains. In this respect, this new approach, which defines language as the action of framing events relationally, may provide a fitting theoretical frame for the study of syllogisms, which are forms of organizing certain types of sentences to express deductive-like inferences. Aristotle described and classified these syllogisms in "Posterior Analytics", considering abstract features of the several types of sentences that conform them as well as the relations among these sentences, but not the meaning of the words in them. Thus, Aristotelian logic constitutes itself as a formal system in which the relevant feature is the organization of its elements and not the semantic value of these elements themselves. This may qualify Aristotelian syllogisms to be studied and described in terms of purely functional overarching verbal operants, particularly as a new type of relational frame. All this considered, this project aims to formulate a behavior-analytic interpretation of Aristotelian syllogisms as a development of Relational Frame Theory. As such, it is a theoretical study that follows an epistemological research method and it will make use, on the one side, of behavior-analytic literature on verbal behavior, particularly focusing on Relational Frame Theory and, on the other side, the works of Aristotle and commentators describing the forms of syllogistic reasoning. (AU)

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